The archaeological site at Paphos is better known for its mosaics than its marble but there are passing references to cipollino in, for example, the Panagia Chrisopolitissa Church. (The area is famous for being the birth place of the goddess, Aphrodite, which is said to have taken place at the Petra tou Romiou a few miles to the west of Paphos) It was built in the 13th century on the site where the ruins of one of the largest and earliest Byzantine basilicas stood. 15
‘The ancient city of Nea Pafos covers some 235 acres (95 hectares). Nea Pafos was founded at the end of the 4th century BC by King Nikotis. Shortly after its foundation, Cyprus fell into the hands of the Egyptian Ptolomeis. Around the time of the 2nd century BC Pafos became the new capital of the island. In 58 BC, Cyprus fell to the Romans and thenceforth was ruled by a Roman governor; nevertheless Pafos remained the capital of the island. Its public buildings and the luxurious houses which have come to light during the excavations have revealed the important role played by Pafos during the time of the pax Romana.’ During the 1st and 4th centuries AD the area was ravaged by earthquakes and Salamis became the new capital of Cyprus, under the name of Constantia.16
When a friend visited Paphos in December 2012 she found the basilica and much of the archaeological site closed to visitors. However, from photographs which she managed to take from the outskirts, there does appear to be some cipollino, some columns standing and some fragments lying on the ground. Most of these are to be found in the area around the Chrysopolitissa basilica. In the colonnade there are four possible cipollino columns, two with Corinthian capitals, two without (Plate 7.5). Closer to the basilica and just in front of the iron railings forming the visitors’ walkway there are three, possibly four, columns of cipollino standing, varying in height from an estimated 3 m. /10 Rf to 4 m. / 13.5 Rf (including bases and capitals) and with diameters estimated to be .30 m. /1 Rf to .40 m. / 1.35 Rf. The best preserved has a Corinthian capital and stands to the right of a granite column of similar height, also with Corinthian capital. One behind it and nearer to the basilica wall has a crack half way up the shaft and no capital. The third also has no capital (Plate 7.6). In the same area there are also two incomplete columns. One has a broken top with no capital and there is a smaller fragment approximately 1 m. /3.37 Rf high (Plate 7.7).
On the other side of the basilica there are two or three broken fragments of marble, which could conceivably be cipollino, lying on the ground. They vary in length and would have a diameter similar to the standing columns near to the basilica (Plate 7.8). There is one other possible small cipollino fragment (Plate 7.9). St Paul’s pillar, which is supposed to commemorate the place where he was tied and beaten, is also probably cipollino (Plate 7.10).
15 Lazzarini, L, p.186.
16 Insight Guide Cyprus, 1998, p. 190.
Maps and Plates
Plate 7.5 Four possible cipollino columns in the Colonnade, on the south side of the Chrisopolitissa basilica, Paphos. (Photo - Dr Jane Grayson).
Plate 7.6 Three or four cipollino columns, two with Corinthian capitals and one without, near the Chrisopolitissa basilica, Paphos. (Photo - Dr Jane Grayson).
Plate 7.7 Two incomplete cipollino columns near the Chrysopolitissa Basilica, Paphos. (Photo - Dr Jane Grayson).
Plate 7.8 Two incomplete fragments of cipollino columns, lying in the grounds of the Chrysopolitissa basilica, Paphos. (Photo - Dr Jane Grayson).
Plate 7.9 Possible fragment of cipollino in the grounds of the Chrisopolitissa Basilica, Paphos.
Plate 7.10 St Paul’s pillar, probably cipollino, Paphos. (Photo - Dr Jane Grayson).